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What is HAPE? How people in the mountains can still fall ill to this type of altitude sickness

Many people are familiar with altitude sickness and the effect it has on the body, but many people often fail to realize that there is a severe form of altitude sickness that even people living at higher elevations can fall ill to.

High altitude pulmonary edema — commonly referred to as HAPE — is a more serious case of altitude sickness that, if not treated quickly or properly, can lead to death.

Due to the cases she has seen at Frisco’s Ebert Family Clinic over the past several years, Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos has been working diligently to make the medical and mountain community aware of the risks of high altitude pulmonary edema.

According to Ebert-Santos, one of the reasons why high altitude pulmonary edema is such a risk to people living in or visiting mountain communities is that oftentimes it can be misdiagnosed for asthma or pneumonia.

“That is what we are taught in medical school,” Ebert-Santos said. “We are not taught about high altitude pulmonary edema, we are taught about pneumonia. When they get the X-ray of the kid that is sick with pulmonary symptoms they will call it pneumonia and put him on antibiotics.”  

One of the major reasons why it’s often misdiagnosed by doctors is that many of its main symptoms double for symptoms of other conditions like asthma or pneumonia. 

“The first sign is usually a cough,” Ebert-Santos said. “Followed by shortness of breath with any effort — even just walking — and fatigue. You just want to lie on the couch.”

If left untreated, the early warning signs of high altitude pulmonary edema can rapidly progress into having fluid build up in the lungs, which will then lead to a patient’s oxygen saturation levels rapidly decreasing. If the individual does not seek treatment quickly, the condition can be fatal.

“There are deaths usually every couple of years in adults who come to ski or have a vacation with their friends,” Ebert-Santos said. “There are so many times when people are sick with a virus and you don’t really give it a second thought. Without having somebody’s eyes on you or having a pulse oximeter to see what is happening with your oxygen, you can’t really know if this is something going on in your lungs or it’s just a cold.”

As they are acclimated to high elevations, mountain residents may think that they are immune to the condition, but research from doctors like Ebert-Santos has shown that residents and visitors alike can be affected by high altitude pulmonary edema.

A headshot of Dr. Christine Ebert-Santos outside of the Ebert Family Clinic in Frisco. Ebert-Santos is on the frontline of researching and educating the public on the prevalence of high altitude pulmonary edema in mountain communities.
Christine Ebert-Santos/Courtesy photo

There are currently four known forms of high altitude pulmonary edema, including classic, reentry resident and highlanders. Classic is the most typical form, occurring with people living at lower elevations visiting a high elevation location. Reentry occurs when a high-elevation resident goes to a lower elevation and returns to a higher elevation. Resident occurs to an individual living at a high elevation without changing their elevation. Highlanders occurs in individuals who live at a high elevation, but then travel to a higher elevation.

One of the most extreme cases of highlanders Ebert-Santos has witnessed occurred when Summit County resident Jonathan Huffman attempted to hike Mount Kilimanjaro.

Since Huffman lived at a high elevation and was physically fit, he did not think he would be at risk for developing a form of high altitude pulmonary edema, but the extreme change in elevation ultimately led to Huffman starting to feel sick.

With a feeling of fluid building up in his lungs and feeling like he was slowly drowning, his blood-oxygen levels plummeted to 67% while he sat all night propped up on duffle bags or in a chair.

Luckily the team members around Huffman were able to recognize the symptoms of highlanders and were able to give him oxygen treatments and transport him to a lower elevation where he eventually made a full recovery. 

Highlanders and reentry high altitude pulmonary edema are the most common cases that Ebert-Santos sees in her youth patients at her practice in Frisco. Many mountain families travel to sea level for vacations, but when the families return the kids can often develop a cough or sound congested. 

“Parents would call me and say that my child sounds really congested,” Ebert-Santos said. “That would ring a bell in my head because the sound of fluid in your lungs and nasal conjunction overlaps. I cannot expect a non-medical person without a stethoscope and a pulse oximeter to be able to differentiate between a kid who has a cold and a kid who has an impending critical condition that could kill them.”

With reentry and highlanders affecting children every year, Ebert-Santos recommends that every family has a pulse oximeter handy in case anyone in the family starts to feel the symptoms associated with the medical condition.

Even if a family feels like their child has a cold, Ebert-Santos recommends using a pulse oximeter, as a common cold or a strain of influenza can make kids more susceptible to developing a form of high altitude pulmonary edema.

If a patient’s oxygen saturation level is below 90%, it could potentially be a case of high altitude pulmonary edema and individuals should head to the emergency room to be fully assessed. If a medical professional believes a patient does indeed have the condition, they will then put them on oxygen and will typically transport them from a higher elevation to a lower elevation to recover.

From what Ebert-Santos has seen in her research thus far, she believes that the condition is more prevalent in youth, but is hoping to find more cases like Huffman where adults have been diagnosed with high altitude pulmonary edema.

Ultimately, Ebert-Santos is hoping to spread the message that visitors and residents can both be diagnosed with high altitude pulmonary edema. 

“It is not in the literature yet,” Ebert-Santos said. “People who live here get HAPE. Everyone thinks that if you live here that you are not susceptible to mountain sickness and HAPE. That is the fallacy that we have to reverse with education.”

Ebert-Santos will further her current research by reviewing cases of children under the age of 18 who may have been misdiagnosed with pneumonia or asthma when in reality they perhaps had a form of high altitude pulmonary edema. 

Those interested in staying up to date with Ebert-Santos’ high altitude pulmonary edema research, can visit her blog at HighAltitudeHealth.org.

This story is from SummitDaily.com.

Alternative Wellness: Reiki Therapy

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alternative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow this series and take steps to improve your wellbeing and see which offerings work for you.

Where energy goes, Reiki flows. That is the phrase Holly Beavers uses to describe Reiki therapy to help people heal. Reiki is a form of energy healing that originated in Japan in the early 20th century. The word “Reiki” is a combination of two Japanese words: “rei,” which means “God’s wisdom,” or “the higher power,” and “ki,” which means “life force energy,” according to the International Center for Reiki Training.

Eagle resident Holly Beavers is a Reiki master practitioner, a Baptiste certified yoga teacher and life coach at her practice called Energy Exchange. She started doing yoga in the early 2000s when she was a student at University of Colorado Boulder. After moving to Vail in 2010, Beavers did another yoga teacher training at Revolution Power Yoga in 2015 and that’s when she found Reiki.

“In 2015 and 2016 I went through my trainings for level 1, 2, and 3 and being a Master Reiki means that I can teach others how to administer Reiki,” Beavers said. “The first time I was working on an aura with my teacher in Denver, she said, ‘Oh, you’ve done this before’ and I said, ‘oh, no, today is my first day’ and my teacher said, ‘oh, no, you’ve done this before’ and I realized that this was a familiar feeling. Whatever you believe, whether it’s religion, God, Buddhism, past lives, it just felt very much a part of me. So, that’s when I realized that I could bring this to people, and I believe everyone is stuck somewhere at some point and time and this is how I could help them.”

Reiki therapy can be used to calm and focus mental and physical sensations in your mind, body and soul.
Jeppe Hove Jensen/Unsplash

Reiki is performed on a regular massage table with hands above the body or maybe some light touch on a client’s clothed body. Beavers will read the chakras, starting from the root chakra and moving to the crown chakra, working to move energy that is stuck to create more balance and a more whole feeling. People come to Beavers for Reiki therapy when they are experiencing some sort of physical injury, a mental block or an emotional issue that is holding them back.

I could feel that my body was holding on to emotional trauma. I was familiar with energy work and hadn’t yet tried Reiki, so I came to Holly for a safe place to support and move that stagnant energy. Throughout our session together, long-instilled patterns from my life began to creep into my conscious mind. With these new breakthroughs and thanks to the safe place Holly created through talk therapy and energy work, I was able to have relinquishing, yet fulfilling experiences time and time again. Holly taught me tools that allow me to acknowledge and shift my negatively habitual ways of being into more gratifying practices. Through this work I have access to being present and self-aware. I am now living in authenticity, I’m full of gratitude and passion for life!

B.B. – Reiki client

“I’ll have a client who comes in and says, ‘I’ve got a heartache,’ and they will literally put their hands on their heart and say, ‘my heart actually hurts,’ so then I’ll suggest we work on some opening and some physical hand techniques that work with Reiki on their heart chakra space and then also work on the whole body,” Beavers said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a client walk out and be on the negative side, even if they are walking out and feel emotional, there’s always a clearing. And it’s like they finally realize, ‘OK, there’s space for something new.’ Sometimes it brings people to tears because they are ready to release things,” Beavers said.

Holly Beavers is a Reiki master practitioner, a Baptiste-certified yoga teacher and life coach.
Holly Beavers/Courtesy photo

Beavers works with mental and emotional health issues like a breakup, loss of a job, grief from the loss of a loved one and other hardships, but Reiki can also be used to complement Western medicine, especially with injuries.

“A friend of mine shattered her ankle and her ankle and her knee were the same size because it was so swollen. I started working on her ankle and started tapping on her ankle and you could visibly see within a half hour that her ankle had shifted, it was physically a half a size smaller after I worked on her. Patients still work with their surgeon and physical therapist and Reiki is a complimentary modality. The energy that is around that injury can be shifted and it helps to heal the area,” Beavers said.

Holly can see the causes and under her gentle guidance she is able to move energy back into their proper positions. This leads to balance and grounding, which helps the body naturally realign itself.

Holly has used Reiki on me several times to help with everything from sore tendons to an upset stomach. She has also helped me become in touch with some deep emotions I did not know were there. I would highly recommend a Reiki session with Holly. Try it, you will be happily fulfilled and content.

K.M. – Reiki client

I had a chance to get on the massage table and experience Reiki therapy for myself. I felt very comfortable in a serene setting with essential oils adding aromas to the ambiance. My eyes were closed but I could feel energetic sensations, almost a tingling feeling, especially around my head. Beavers did an abbreviated session with me because I was short on time, but I still feel like I received the benefit out of it and Beavers said she could still read quite a bit about me from the chakras and what the universe was telling her.

She said that I vibrated with high energy which matched what she knew about my lifestyle. She also felt some heaviness at my heart chakra and maybe that is because I have physical issues with my collar bone or that could be some of the grief I still feel after my dad passed away three years ago.

Beavers will suggest different action items her clients can take with them and she also teaches them ways to help shift habits and create more overall well-being.

I was so busy, but I scheduled a first-time session of Reiki with Holly and I am so glad I did. She was warm and welcoming from the moment I walked in. She asked about any ailments/laments I had, making it clear I only had to give her as much information as I was comfortable with. She was so present and I could sense her loving energy. I kind of got emotional, which I wasn’t expecting.

During the Reiki session, I felt warmth throughout my body and I could sense the degree to which Holly was working. I must have had a lot of blockages. I felt calm and relaxed for the rest of the day, not hurried at all despite the busy day I had ahead of me. I felt a shift in my attitude for several weeks afterwards, too. I was positive and energetic.

J.M. – Reiki client

“When people leave, I can see that their eyes are brighter, their face is more relaxed or if they were pale their face is rosy with openness and they oftentimes leave with a possibility of something new,” Beavers said.

To learn more about Reiki therapy and its benefits, visit HollyBeaversEnergyExchange.com.

Alternative Wellness: Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alterative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow this series and take steps to improve your well-being and see which offerings work for you.

You may see a lot of people walking around with crutches, casts or slings this time of year. After a long ski and snowboard season prone with injuries, many locals and guests get their surgeries done once the season has ended if they can. You may also hear about a way to reduce inflammation post-surgery and mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one way you may be able to recover faster.

Harrison Brown, owner of Recovery Lab Vail in Lionshead offers cutting-edge recovery modalities such as Normatec compression boots and IV therapy to the general public but he also offers mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy. To break it down, “hyper” means high, “baric” means pressure so this is the use of ambient oxygen in a pressurized environment. Your body’s tissues need a sufficient amount of oxygen to function. The tissues must have even more oxygen to survive. Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.

“In the mild hyperbaric chamber you are going down to 1.3 atmospheres, which is just below sea level and we are only pushing the ambient oxygen which is the same 22% oxygen that we breathe every day, except we are pushing 10 times more of that oxygen into your body that your respiratory system would be able to do on its own,” Harrison said.

Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of ambient oxygen in a pressurized environment of 1.3 atmospheres. Increased pressure allows for oxygen to dissolve and saturate into the blood plasma.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The list of ailments mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help improve is long, but it does help reduce inflammation, expedite wound healing, increase the body’s ability to fight infection, severe concussion protocols and traumatic brain injuries. Many people who have tried it relay that it also improves sleep.

“Sometimes people will come in thinking they’re helping a certain area of their body and then realize that, ‘hey, my knees are less achy’ or ‘I’ve been sleeping so much better after doing this,’ because there are so many benefits from this,” Brown said.

For those recovering from surgery and going to physical therapists, the results are distinctive.

“I went to the recovery Lab to use the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy a few days after surgery to reconstruct my ACL and my meniscus. Initially, I was going to the hyperbaric chamber almost daily. I did that for the first couple of weeks and then started to space them out after that. From my first post-surgery appointment and on, my surgeon was shocked at how quickly my knee swelling was going down.

I would 100% recommend the hyperbaric chamber to others. To be honest, I was skeptical at first. Never having surgery before, I wasn’t sure how things like swelling worked and how long things took to progress, etc. But once my surgeon told me the lack of swelling was incredible I knew it was working it’s magic!”

J. – Recovery lab Vail client

Brown has also seen remarkable results with a client who has gout.

“Gout has been a constant struggle for me, causing intense pain and discomfort in my joints. I had tried various medications and lifestyle changes, but nothing seemed to provide long-lasting relief. That’s when I came across hyperbaric chamber therapy and decided to give it a try.

I started my sessions in the hyperbaric chamber with cautious optimism, not knowing what to expect. To my surprise, almost immediately after my session, I began to notice a significant improvement in my gout symptoms. The pain and swelling in my joints started to subside and I could move more freely without discomfort. It was truly remarkable how quickly the hyperbaric chamber therapy had a positive impact on my condition.”

H. – Recovery Lab Vail Client

Another client of Brown’s had a total colectomy two years ago and started mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy one year ago. A total colectomy removes your entire colon and the majority of your large intestine.

Someone suggested I try mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy and in my condition I thought, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.’ After a total colectomy, you go to the bathroom, a lot. The first thing I do when I go into a new building is figure out where the bathroom is. Committing to the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been super helpful and I feel more confident being away from a bathroom for longer periods of time. I know another person from the valley who has it and she started about a year after I did and she is seeing benefits, too. My doctor down in Denver said ‘whatever you are doing, it’s working for you.’

Friends noticed I had improved skin tone and I noticed my vision improved. I can’t speak highly enough about it. It is magic, but it is not a ‘one and done’ type of thing, you must commit but it is worth every penny!”

T. – Recovery Lab Vail Client

What’s it like getting into the chamber? It reminded me of a small tent and Brown explains how it all works and once you are zipped up, that’s when the pressurization starts. If you are fine with “clearing your ears”- similar to how you adjust your ears when taking off or landing while you’re flying in an airplane – you’ll be fine as the pressure reaches 4 PSI which equates to 1.3 atmospheres.

For those who feel claustrophobic, the team at Recovery Lab talks you through the process and lets you know that you have full control of the situation and that they are there for you the whole time.

“It’s been a joy of mine to work with those people because the amount of benefit that they will get from the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, if they can work through that small mental issue, is going to be more beneficial if they didn’t do it at all,” Brown said.

Vail Daily reporter tries out the mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy at Recovery Lab Vail.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

I did the one-hour session and it was so relaxing. I didn’t go to sleep, but Brown said many of his clients do. But you are in such a relaxed state and that alone can help you feel better once you get out. They give you an eye mask and headphones so you can listen to NuCalm, a neuro-acoustic software that facilitates putting you in a state between alpha and theta which allows you to completely relax.

For more information on mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy, visit RecoveryLabVail.com.

Alternative Wellness: Hypnosis

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alternative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow this series and take steps to improve your well being and see which offerings work for you.

When you hear the word hypnosis, you may think of the phrase, “you are getting verrrryyy sleeeeepyyyyyy…” The hypnosis you may have been exposed to as a kid on television shows is not what Kacee Picot is trying to achieve. Picot is using the power of suggestion while you are in a heightened state of awareness to produce the desired results you want out of life, be that losing weight, quitting smoking or another challenge you face.

Picot has been a licensed, professional cosmetologist in the Vail Valley since 1994 and has her business, C Kacee Go Beauty and Wellness Center in Riverwalk at Edwards. But, like many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, she started looking at different professions.

“When the world shut down during COVID-19, I started to wonder, ‘what if I can’t do hair anymore?’ and I looked into meditation for myself, because I was struggling, which lead me to Joe Dispenza,” Picot said. You may recognize Dr. Joe Dispenza’s name because of the award-winning film, “What the BLEEP Do We Know!?” The scientist, teacher and lecturer is also the author of several New York Times bestsellers.

“I went to a couple of his seminars and then I learned that he was a hypnotist with Hypnosis Motivation Institute (HMI), which is why I went to HMI,” Picot said. That’s when she learned how hypnosis could help those with a variety of ailments, from mental health, smoking, interventions for people who are addicts and alcoholics and a host of other vices.

Kacee Picot uses hypnotherapy to give people relief from what’s troubling them.
Kacee Picot/Courtesy photo

Hypnotherapy is not done while you are “out of it,” you are instead in a heightened state of concentration and focused attention.

“You’re not asleep, you’re not in a blackout, and I can’t make you do something that would be against your moral code to do. When you’re listening to my voice, just like any normal conversation, sometimes you’re on the edge of your seat listening to every word, and other times you just go into your own thoughts and you’re listening to yourself and that’s exactly what you are supposed to do. So, part of it is led, some of it I have people in a lighter state of hypnosis where they are answering questions with a finger twitch or a nod, or they are saying yes or no out loud, and other times they are deep in trance and I’m leading them through a guided journey with a lot of metaphors and these metaphors are used to create a perception shift so that people say, ‘oh, I see where that makes sense for me’ in a very subtle way,” Picot said.

It may be as subtle as feeling like going for a walk when you get home from work instead of going straight to the kitchen and eating. Picot said that hypnosis can be very effective when helping someone with weight loss.

“We have a saying in the industry where ‘the thing is never the thing.’ Being overweight – it’s not about the food, it’s what is attached to it,” Picot said. Weight loss may require several sessions because it’s revealing layers of why you’re holding on to the weight.

“Let’s say you’re standing behind your kids in photos, or you’re not even in the photos – how many Christmas cards do you get of just the kids and not the parents because the mom doesn’t want to stand behind her kids again? That thought process bleeds into poor sleep habits, it bleeds into self-esteem at work, it bleeds into medical issues, so it is not just the weight, it’s the weight and people beating themselves up about it,” Picot said. “People will think, ‘I’m still at this weight and I can’t stand to see myself in the mirror, I won’t go to the beach because I will not put on a bathing suit in front of anyone. I don’t want to be naked in front of my husband…’,” Picot’s voice trails off as she gets a little emotional recounting the pain people are feeling and hiding behind.

“No one should feel that way…it’s just heartbreaking…” Picot said.

That passion to make people feel better about themselves is what drives Picot to dedicate her time to helping others.

“You don’t have to punish yourself forever. Our brains re-vilify, re-live, re-beat ourselves up all our lives for something that we did,” Picot said. “We can use hypnotherapy to make something less triggering so you can have that memory without the emotional attachment and the fear and anxiety that is wrapped in it. So, you don’t smell that car accident anymore, because sometimes people still smell that accident.”

I came to Kacee after researching hypnotherapy and discovering how beneficial it is in helping people who deal with addictive tendencies and I, unfortunately, had several. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical that I could be hypnotized, but my fears were unfounded.

The progress that I have made over the last six weeks has been truly amazing.  I would highly recommend her to anyone who believes they could benefit from hypnotherapy.


Many people believe that hypnosis will conjure things up from the past.

“A lot of people think that they are going to have to relive things to heal and you don’t. You don’t even have to know what it was for it to be released. Which is such a safe way to process things,” Picot explained. “So, it just gives people freedom around their thoughts, freedom around their intrusive thoughts and their fears and phobias and that is a huge relief to people.”

Hypnosis is often used in smoking cessation.

“Smoking, vaping, dipping and chewing tobacco habits can be worked on in one session, it is two and a half hours long, but it is very effective. I had one client in her late 70s who was vaping but she needed to have a surgery, so she said she wanted to quit smoking beforehand. She also said she felt like a junkie going out and vaping at her age and talked about how it pulled her away from her grandchildren, pulled her away when she’s on a trip, and so on. After one session, she was done,” Picot said.

“I had been a smoker for over 18 years and tried numerous methods to quit but nothing worked. A friend recommended hypnosis and I was skeptical at first. Kacee, the hypnotist, suggested to my subconscious mind that I no longer needed cigarettes and that I was better off without them. When I woke up, I felt refreshed and motivated to quit smoking. Honestly, it was like seeing colors for the first time. I noticed a significant change in my cravings for cigarettes after the hypnosis session. The urge to smoke was greatly reduced and I was able to resist the temptation to smoke. It wasn’t easy, but with the help of hypnosis, I was able to quit smoking for good.


In addition to weight loss, stress eating and smoking cessation, Picot has been trained to work on sleep disorders, guilt, grief, tinnitus, motion sickness, irritable bowel syndrome, sexual issues, career goals and athletic performance. She can even help those who have been in a skiing or snowboarding accident get back out on the slopes. Teenagers and children can be helped with things such as test-taking, studying, attention deficit disorder, bed-wetting, confidence, fears and phobias.

The hypnosis sessions vary in length depending on the issue and can either be done in person at Picot’s salon in Riverwalk in Edwards or she can do them over Zoom.

“If you’re having issues with food, I’ll have you be in your kitchen during the session. If you have trouble with sleep, I’ll have you be in your bedroom. If you’re having issues at the office, go to the office and be in the boardroom and while you’re in the boardroom we do this session and you come out of it and you’re there and there’s just relief around it.,” Picot said.

I’ve battled with weight my whole life and recently put on a lot of weight while dealing with my nephew’s untimely death and my ex-husband’s cancer, so I’ve been grieving and care giving and emotionally eating to cope. I decided it was time to take charge of my health and I’m only a few sessions in and know it’s going to be a process, but I already feel hopeful that I’m going to be able to conquer this and not feel like there is nothing I can do about it.


I give people homework in between appointments and I send them audios to listen to on a regular basis, some of the topics are “wake up happy,” “drink less wine,” “deep sleep,” or “stop biting your nails” – whatever the issue is, we’ll address it subconsciously,” Picot said. “It’s amazing.”

Throughout the years, Picot has gotten a lot of feedback and kudos for helping people change their lives for the better, but she doesn’t take credit for her clients’ success.

“I don’t care if they credit the hypnosis, as long as they make the change and their life is better. It’s not about me. The answers are all in the person. They know what they need better than I know. I’m just cracking it open so that they can access what they know and what is best for them.”

Alternative Wellness: Start anew with a 21-Day Reset

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alternative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow this series and take steps to improve your well being and see which offerings work for you.

It was the beginning of the new year and I figured, ‘why not get a fresh start?’ I had heard of Profound Wellness and Christine Pierangeli’s 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset and was willing to give it a try. Pierangeli is a Certified Master Nutritional Therapist and I had done cooking videos with her in the past and loved her healthy recipes. My diet had taken a downturn and started to become centered around pre-packaged, convenience-based and preservative-heavy foods and I knew I wanted to add some new go-to recipes to my world and get on a better track.

Pierangeli will often do the 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset with groups, particularly at The Athletic Club at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon. But you can also do the program on your own at any time. The plan includes an introductory package to get you started, three weeks of tips and recipes, a Facebook accountability page and support and education along the way from Pierangeli.

Pierangeli has always been interested in how eating right and making healthy lifestyle choices impact health in a positive way. Her interest became a passion and she enrolled in the renowned Nutrition Therapy Institute (NTI) in Denver and began her new education journey. Pierangeli’s dream came to fruition when she delivered her thesis in November of 2015 and received her certificate as a Master Nutrition Therapist. She went on to become Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition in 2017. 

Christine Pierangeli, owner of Profound Wellness, turned her passion for nutrition into a profession.
Christine Pierangeli/Courtesy photo

“Nutrition therapy focuses on how nutrition and lifestyle impact our health. My education helped me understand that profound wellness is not achieved by trying the latest diet craze. Profound wellness is achieved when we respect our body’s innate wisdom and incorporate a whole-foods diet and make healthy lifestyle choices. Just eat real food and move your body. It really is that simple,” Pierangeli said.

The premise of the 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset is to eliminate sugar, dairy, gluten and bad oils from your diet. It sounds extreme, but once I started making the recipes, I really didn’t miss those things. Doing this reduces systemic inflammation, fine-tunes daily eating habits and determines potential food sensitivities in order to achieve profound wellness. 

This sweet potato and pork hash has the perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Pieranglei does recommend you reduce the amount of caffeine and alcohol while you are doing this reset as well. Moderate alcohol consumption is two to three 5-ounce glasses of wine a week or one to two mixed drinks a week. Although caffeine has health benefits in moderation, Pierangeli spelled out just how many milligrams you should aim for. A moderate amount of caffiene a day is 200 to 400 milligrams. To put that into perspective, a Starbucks tall size coffee has 260 milligrams. A typical 8-ounce home brew has 100 milligrams and an espresso also has 100 milligrams.

To get started, Pierangeli gives you several forms to look over, from a blank menu planning template to recipes, food suggestions and a sample grocery list to get your pantry ready for the challenge.

Pierangeli also sets up a different challenge each week. One week I was supposed to try new foods. This was fun because it got me out of my comfort zone and my regular picks at the grocery store and forced me to eat something different. I never realized how juicy and delicious pears were and now I eat them all the time. Kimchi was another new one for me that I would have never tried had I not been challenged to find new foods.

Pieranglei also assigned a list of videos to help participants learn more about what really goes into our food these days. These are free to watch on Youtube, Netflix or Amazon Prime and provide so much insight. I watched the documentary, “Fed Up” which is narrated by Katie Couric and talks about obesity and how sugar has taken over our food supply and how it impacts our health. Another good film was “Supersize Me” which shows what happens when every meal is eaten at McDonald’s for 30 straight days.

Planning and meal prep can help you stay on track during the 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset.
Alyson McPhee/Unsplash

In addition to making changes in the kitchen, the 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset also encourages participants to improve sleep patterns, drink more water and practice mindfulness.

“When we are truly dialed into our health and wellness, we can easily recognize the symptoms of systemic inflammation like low energy, overweight, brain fog and joint pain. Because inflammation is at the root of all chronic diseases, this plan is powerful in improving heart health, cancer prevention and preventing autoimmune disorders,” Pierangeli said.

The biggest challenge I had was finding the time to grocery shop and cook the meals, but I will admit, I don’t like to grocery shop and I burn water, so I am not very adept in the kitchen and it takes me a long time to cook a meal. Once I got a few recipes under my belt and even froze some of the leftovers, I was on my way to having a variety of healthy meals at my fingertips.

I started to crave the new recipes and I even made meals for others. Recipes like curried chicken salad, zucchini “noodles” with bolognese sauce, a sweet potato breakfast hash with pork and a chicken pot pie without the pastry crust – that’s been my favorite! It’s an amazing meal with chicken, butternut squash, coconut cream, peas and seasonings and it’s become a crowd-pleaser.

Vail Daily reporter Tricia Swenson, who admits she’s not very skilled in the kitchen, felt comfortable enough with the chicken pot pie recipe to serve it to friends.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

After the 21 days, Pierangeli gives you a re-introduction plan so you can see the effects of adding sugar, gluten and dairy back into your diet and gauge how you feel. I decided to stick with the meal plan for the most part, but I will admit I did add cheese back into my diet because I love cheese, but I’m trying to be mindful of what kind of cheese I buy and how much I consume. I’ve felt like I had more energy, didn’t quite feel so sluggish in the afternoons and my ski pants fit better all season!

I think it’s an eye-opening and attainable challenge where everyone can learn something from it and this awareness can put you on a pathway to better health. And, hey, if I can tackle the recipes and master them in the kitchen, anyone can. To learn more and to sign up for the 21-Day Anti-Inflammatory Reset, go to ProfoundWellness.fit.

Alternative Wellness: Time to fly with acrosage

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alterative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow along each Sunday in January and discovery other ways to work wellness into your life into your life in 2023.

Are you ready to fly? Sunshine Massage Studio in Lionshead is ready to take you on an anti-gravity, multi-dimensional and multi-sensory massage journey.  

“Flying” is a term used when one person is what’s called the “base” and they “fly” the other person and position them in all types of poses that help stretch and lengthen muscles and decompress the spine. Think of when you were a kid and you’d play “airplane” and someone was the base and you’d hop onto their feet and put your arms out like an airplane – it’s kind of like that. But to tell us more, let’s get the more scientific details from the expert, Sunshine Gray, owner of Sunshine Massage Studio.

Sunshine is a ray of sunshine, the petite blonde exudes positive energy and light and is passionate about acrosage, the term used to describe this type of modality that incorporates acrobatics into massage. Gray had a successful massage practice on the Big Island in Hawaii and met Benjamin Marantz, and ex-acrobat who incorporated massage into acrobatics.

“I’ve never met anyone who combined so much healing into 15 minutes. It was mind boggling, my jaw dropped watching the first acro session and after I experienced it, I’ve never felt healthier in my body than after the 15-minute acrosage. So, I just want to spread that awareness that you don’t need a 60 minute massage to transform your life,” Gray said.

Gray had grown up in Vail and decided to leave Hawaii and open a practice here that would incorporate acrosage.

“I felt passionate about bringing this niche to Vail because I know that it is not common, I know that this is something new to Vail. It takes the weight of the world off your body,” Gray said.

Getting inverted and reducing the weight on your spine can be achieved through acrosage with Sunshine Massage Studio.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

Sunshine Massage Studio combines acrosage into other massage treatments for maximum benefit.

“We like to do the acrosage first because it builds trust between the massage therapist and the client,” Gray said. “The whole goal of this session is to allow the person to fully let go. It’s a complete mental rejuvenation. In terms of the deeper intention of acrosage, it’s rebirth.”

The time came for me to get inverted. I had seen the website and knew that Sunshine Massage Studio did this practice, and I had always been curious about what it would feel like. I’ve had back problems earlier in life and even had back surgery, so any kind of weightlessness or inversions are good for my spine.

The massage artists at Sunshine Massage Studio from left to right: Sunshine Gray, Amy Pizarro-Griffiths, Rollie Synder, Brigitte Brown, Nicole Luczkow, Ally Hallahan.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

First off, some aromatherapy. Gray had me pick a few scents that spoke to me. I had peppermint, eucalyptus and a serenity relaxation blend.

“We want to get you to breathe, the foundation of massage is breath work,” Gray said.

The room is dark and I basically let Sunshine be my guide. At first, I was stiff and trying to maintain control. As a former high school and college cheerleader who did partner stunts, I was always taught to “stay tight” in order to help our partners hold the pose or stunt we were doing. Once I finally let go and trusted Sunshine to fly me, I relaxed and remembered to breathe.

It was so cool…I remember thinking ‘What day is it? Where do I live again?’ I was floating. I was upside down, I was sideways, I was weightless. And it felt great!

“People love this, they love being able to close their eyes and it feels like they are floating in water or outer space,” Gray said.

Yep, I had thoughts of those weightless astronauts and wondered if this is what it would feel like to be up near the stars.

“In this state, you lose complete control and knowledge of where your body is in time and space and what is up and what is down, what year is it. It can be a really mentally cleansing experience,” Gray said.

While I was flying, Sunshine was also saying positive affirmations and the energy in the room was palpable. When my session was done, I was all smiles, and I did remember what day it was and where I lived. Sunshine and I shared a smile and some laughter about my first “flight.”

“Let’s just celebrate the fact that you carved time out for this because there can be this pressure to give all of your energy to everything outside of your precious body vessel, but we can celebrate that the body is here, at the studio, you took the time to do this,” Gray said.

I was so curious as to how Gray and her staff have the strength to do this.

“I get asked all the time how much weight can I fly. I can fly someone up to 175 pounds,” Gray said. They have other staff members, Gray calls them massage artists, who can fly more weight. “All body types are welcome and we also have a spring-loaded padded yoga swing that can hold up to 300 pounds.”

No prior experience is necessary, just a willingness to be open to the experience.

“Some of the postures look intense and I love to tell my clients that, no, you don’t have to have any experience with yoga or dance or be a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, everyone can learn how to surrender their spines.” Gray said.

The reason Gray and her staff are able to fly people in what seems like an effortless way is because of bone stacking.

Jasmine Aas acts as the base to fly Sunshine Gray at Sunshine Massage Studio in Lionshead.
Sunshine Massage Studio/Courtesy photo

“Acrobats work on bone stacking, not strength alone. Think about human pyramids and you may look at the person at the base and wonder how they can hold this position and it is because the bones are actually designed to take on strength and they actually love it, it builds bone density and the bones like the challenge. So, when I teach people how to do this, I tell them that as the base they stack the femur and stack all the bones so that the weight of the client just goes right through and it feels extremely stable,” Gray said.

Acrosage is a great treatment to get before you get one of the many styles of massage on the menu at Sunshine Massage Studio. You are relaxed, stretched out and ready to receive the benefits of a massage treatment, and the weightless feeling is addicting, so you may find yourself working this into your wellness routine more and more. To learn more, go to SunshineMassageStudio.com.

Alternative Wellness: Soak it in with Float Tank Therapy

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alterative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow along each Sunday in January and discovery other ways to work wellness into your life in 2023.

Would you like to take a load off and feel totally weightless for an hour? You can experience this sensation by trying the float tank at Dreams Float Spa in Avon. Dreams Float Spa was started by Dimitar Minkov and Ivaylo Stoyanov four years ago.

“I was just a fan of floating, so that is why I decided to open this with my business partner. Ivaylo is one of the best massage therapists in town, so, we combined our skills to create a wellness spa,” Minkov said

Minkov had heard about float therapy from a podcast and decided to try it for the first time.

“The first time I stepped in Colorado I came right off the airplane and went straight to the float center in Boulder,” said Minkov, who is from Bulgaria originally. “I had my first float session and it was amazing and ever since then I’ve been floating regularly. I was going to Boulder every now and then because we did not have one here.”

Minkov took Stoyanov to try the float tanks and he loved it. The next day they found the space in Avon and started working on opening up a wellness spa. In addition to two float tanks, they have three massage rooms, two zero gravity massage chairs, esthetic services and ashiatsu massage. The spa is centrally located in Avon and they provide all types of massages with local massage therapists that are very experienced, anything from deep tissue massage, reflexology, hot stone, sports massage and cupping to CBD, couples massage, to Reiki, PEMF Therapy, facials, make up and tanning.

Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which promotes sleep.
Dreams Float Spa/Courtesy photo

But the float tank draws the most questions: How does it work? What makes me float? Will I get cold? Will I feel claustrophobic?

In the float tank, they use 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt in 100 gallons of water and that is why you are able to float effortlessly. Their tanks are eight feet long by four-and-a-half feet wide and there are 10 inches of water to float in, so you have room to sprawl out while you are weightless.

Why salt?

“There are many benefits, it’s great for the nervous system, for the skin and hair and muscle recovery,” Minkov said. “People usually soak in a couple of pounds of Epsom salt in their own bathtub, but here you’re soaking in 1,000 pounds of it, which is amazing.”

Minkov said that Epsom salt is actually magnesium sulfate, so it promotes sleep and many physicians usually recommend supplementing with magnesium because it is one of the most important minerals for us as humans.

“We can be deficient in it, so we absorb a lot of it through the skin during the float because the skin is the largest organ. That is why the benefits last for days afterward,” Minkov said. “It also promotes muscle recovery and releases stress.”

Once you are in the tank you can decide if you want the lights and/or music on or off.
Dreams Float Spa/Courtesy photo

How do you keep warm?

“The water stays warm because there is a thermostat and we usually keep it at 95 or 96 degrees, your body temperature is around 98 degrees so if we keep it at body temperature, that is too hot, so we keep it at skin temperature,” Minkov said.

Cleanliness is key at Dreams Float Spa, too.

“We have an ultraviolet disinfection system filter so before and after a person uses the tank, we filter the water at least three times. Everything goes through the ultraviolet disinfection system and it is the safest, cleanest water facility available, it cannot be compared to any hot tub or swimming pool because we don’t use any chemicals,” Minkov said.

With all of those questions answered, it was time to travel into the tub. They have everything there for you, you rinse off in your private room with the float tank right there, hop in and close the door if you want and you can keep things quiet or listen to meditative music. At first, it took me a while to relax. I really didn’t want my face to “sink,” so I used the foam float ring provided to keep my head a bit higher. After you let go and let yourself relax, that’s when you really start to feel the sensation of being weightless. I experimented with arms above my head and along my sides in more of a shavasana pose. Once you let your mind relax, time flies and I was able to get into a meditative state, which was nice to take a little break from life’s busy schedule.

Afterward, my skin felt so soft, my hair felt so soft also. Even though you take a shower after the treatment, the benefits of the salt stay with you. I felt well-rested and clear-headed. Now, this was just one time, but, just like weight loss, you don’t see results after one day at the gym, so I could see how repetitive sessions could make a difference over time.

“We do recommend floating regularly, maybe people with sleep disorders or people under a lot of stress, they like to float every week, otherwise at least once a month is what we recommend,” Minkov said.

Float tank therapy can be beneficial for pregnant women who are looking to take pressure off of their backs and joints from the weight of pregnancy.
Dreams Float Spa/Courtesy photo

I’m not claustrophobic, but for those who are, Minkov is here to help you.

“There are many people who are claustrophobic and for most of them, 99.9% of them, I manage to convince them to try it and I usually leave the music on, leave the light on and if this is not enough, they can leave the door to the tank open, so this is what usually helps,” Minkov said.

“I’m quite experienced now after almost four years where I’ve seen many, many people with all kinds of nervousness and worries about this, so I know what to say and do to make them feel comfortable,” Minkov said. “Maybe I’ll suggest they have a massage first to feel more relaxed, then go in the float tank. It depends on the person but usually I can read the person and their expectations and what they think about it, and that helps me make a decision on how to treat them and chart their course.”

Vail Daily reporter Tricia Swenson hung out in the zero-gravity massage chair after her float tank session at Dreams Float Spa in Avon.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Plan to spend some time at Dreams Float Spa. Their lounge is cozy and provides a sense of calm and you could pair a float session with another treatment and be ready to hit the hill the next day. They also have monthly programs for locals and those staying for a while to gain the full benefits of the float tank.

“It is just the most relaxing wellness treatment you can ever experience because of the uniqueness of the environment that you are in,” Minkov said.

For more information, go to DreamsFloatSpa.com.

Alternative Wellness: Reset your body from the ground up with an ionic detox foot bath

Editor’s Note: The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson searched the valley for alternative wellness modalities that are lesser-known and have proven benefits. Follow along each Sunday in January and discovery other ways to work wellness into your life in 2023.

New Year, new habits, right? At least that is what you tell yourself. But, one way to get on a healthier track is to reset your system to prepare for the changes you want to make habitual. The ionic detox foot bath at Vail Valley Wellness is a good place to start.

I’d heard about detoxification through the feet and how “black” the water can get, so I was very curious about the process and benefits behind putting your feet into a copper tub full of warm water with little red and black cables that remind me of what I jump my car with. Becky Burgess, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine and owner of Vail Valley Wellness in EagleVail, quickly put me at ease, explaining the scientific process and procedure.

“Basically, we all have this buildup of positive ions and that’s from stress and toxins such as environmental toxins, from being sick, from surgeries, poor diet, all of that. What we’re trying to do is remove free radicals from your system and remove cellular waste so that we can bring your body back into ideal balance,” Burgess said.

At Vail Valley Wellness, Ionic Detox Foot Baths have been done on kids as young as 5 and adults as old as 90.

“It’s really safe for nearly everyone and it’s great if you are trying to reset your body. If you’ve been sick for a while, this reset cleans your system. This is good if you are about to start a new habit, like eating healthier or just make a big change in your life,” Burgess said. “It is equal to a seven-day cleanse over a 35-minute period while you’re sitting down enjoying a cup of tea.”

I did get a cup of tea that I selected from a whole wall full of jars of loose-leaf tea. Then, it was time to dip my feet into the process, literally.

A copper foot tub is used to amplify the effects of the detoxification process.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

“We have you in a copper foot tub because that is going to amplify the effects of this detox. The main unit in there is called the optimizer and then you have a positive and a negative electrode in there, then we connect it to our machine and we add some salt to the tub and the salt is going to be your connector, so right now we are creating a circuit,” explained Burgess.

“Your body is made up of mostly water so we are working via osmosis. We are trying to pull out the toxicity and refill your cells. When your cells get toxic and taxed, they start to shrivel up like raisins and we want them to be full like grapes. So, you can kind of think of this as if we are using clean water from the tub to refill your cells and then we’re pulling any free radicals and cellular waste out so we can optimize your pH,” Burgess said.

I must admit, I really wanted my water to look as clean as possible, almost like I was trying to pass the test, or be the “best” at the Ionic Detox Foot Bath challenge, but slowly and surely, my water turned many dark colors.

“Nearly everyone’s water looks pretty disgusting,” Burgess said. “The good news is that it is out of your body and not in your body.”

Burgess went on to explain the different colors we were seeing and what they mean. The lighter yellow in my tub referred to the digestive system, the orange can indicate oxidative stress on joints, the darker black areas indicate kidney function. Foam can highlight issues with your lymphatic system.

“Something like dry brushing is going to help relieve your lymphs and you just need to clean out your lymphs because they’re not going to move on their own,” Burgess said. “We’ll look at your foot bath, read your results and we’ll make some recommendations based on that. Everything from taking probiotics to doing a candida cleanse to dry brushing, so then you can take that information and use it not only to detox but also as a tool for diagnosis, so that you can help yourself moving forward.”

Throughout the 35-minute process, various colors appear and indicate different factors about your wellness.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

Burgess said the benefits range from improving blood circulation and skin tone and texture, to decreasing swelling and easing chronic pain. She also said Vail Valley Wellness uses this a lot to help those who have lime disease and mold toxicity.

“Most people, after they do this, feel lighter, they feel more clear-headed, like their brains are just working a little bit better. Ideally, if they are starting to feel sick, they feel that congestion just break up and are able to heal much, much faster,” Burgess said.  

I will admit that I did feel lighter. I felt like I was ready to tackle some projects and was clear-headed. And, it was only 35 minutes. It was a time where I could relax and drink some delicious tea. I realized could get used to this. They even have a room where you can bring a few friends and you all do the Ionic Detox Foot Bath at the same time. It’s the ultimate catch-up session while doing something good for the group.

Some people will do just one ionic detox foot bath every now and then, just for a reset, but if you are really focused on what detoxing you can do for you, Burgess suggests you do one a week for five weeks.

“Ideally, you do see the bath get lighter and lighter each time, but it’s never going to be clear. That is something that the naysayers point out and say, ‘oh, well, you can do this without feet” and we’ve experimented where we have that (the tub) next to you and the water turns a light yellow but that is because our water is toxic, our air is toxic, we’re lining the copper tubs in plastic, things like that, so it will never be completely clear, but ideally you see a change. It’s going to pull where you need to detox, from where you need it most first, so when you are doing the series, you can get a little deeper,” Burgess said.  

After the ionic detox foot bath is over, your feet are rinsed and lotion with magnesium is applied.
Tricia Swenson/Vail Daily

The ionic detox foot bath is priced at $49 per 35-minute session or five sessions for $200.

“This is totally manageable, I feel like this is our “gateway drug” for holistic medicine. Especially for men coming in here and it might get minds thinking about what else I can do for their health. It’s a low-cost investment that doesn’t take much time and it’s a good way to get the wheels turning,” Burgess said.

So, grab a friend and take some time, 35 minutes at least, to reconnect, have some tea and reset your body for good things to come in the new year. For more information, go to VailValleyWellness.com.

Vail Symposium series focuses on stress management

When we get stressed, even if it’s as minor as an email, it results in a cascade of 1,400 biochemicals, like cortisol and adrenaline, designed to help us deal with a life-or-death threat. The problem is most stressors aren’t life or death, but the chemicals they release may be; they contribute to all kinds of conditions, from heart disease, cancer and diabetes to obesity and Alzheimer’s. The half-life of many of these chemicals, like cortisol, lasts six to eight hours, which is pretty significant.

“They age you and make it hard to sleep,” said Bruce Cryer, cofounder of HeartMath, a system of scientifically validated tools, techniques and behaviors to reduce stress, enhance performance, increase creativity and improve overall well-being.

Cryer presented a series of workshops Sept. 14-15 as part of the Vail Symposium’s consciousness series. On Sept. 14 at Donovan Pavilion, he reviewed tools to help people build adaptability, resilience and well-being in the face of ongoing uncertainty, which translates to stress. On Sept. 15, he taught a morning workshop on stress and techniques to deal with it, then led an afternoon session on unleashing creativity at Eagle River Presbyterian Church.

He began the workshop on Sept. 15 with a YouTube video called, “You see the world through how you feel,” which depicts cityscapes through the lens of stress followed by the same scenes as classical music lends a calm atmosphere to the previously perceived madness. His point: our experiences and perceptions affect how we feel.

Cryer defined stress as an “emotional mismatch between expectations and reality,” which becomes problematic when it’s chronic, like the layers of stress we’ve collectively experienced in the past two years with the pandemic, inflation, climate change and conflicts.

He reviewed studies as far back as WWII that showed how soldiers, when faced with challenges, reach peak efficiency, but as the difficulty stretches over time, hyper reactions lead to emotional exhaustion, which ultimately results in breakdown. He also went over Elizabeth Kübler Ross’ process of shock and recovery, which journeys through emotions like anger, fear and blame, goes into resistance then worry, bottoms out at depression and feelings of loss of control, and ultimately rises to exploration.

“You can get stuck in depression,” he said, “but if you’re willing to stay with life and move on, you go on to exploration.”

And he knows about moving through difficulty. After about a dozen years of being the CEO of HeartMath, he got cancer, got divorced, went through the death of a parent and battled a staph infection after hip replacement surgery. He ended up leaving his job and focusing on his creativity, or what makes his heart sing.

“Whenever you’re doing things that make your heart sing, it benefits your health and well-being,” he said during the afternoon session on creativity. “One of the fundamental things that needs to shift is how we associate creativity with artistic expression. Creativity is not just artistic expression. A relationship can be artistic, work can be artistic, family can be artistic. We are all made of creative energy. This energy inside us can play out in all different ways.”

But in order to be as creative as possible, it’s important to manage stress. That’s where heart meditation comes in.

During the morning session, Cryer encouraged participants to focus attention around their heart area, breathing in for 5 seconds and breathing out for 5 seconds while imagining the breath moving through the heart.

“This moves you into a more balanced state,” Cryer said, adding that it helps maintain a neutral stance in any situation. “To me, we’re at a time where people are at their worst — myself included, so cut yourself some slack and cut others some slack. It’s rough now. Stay neutral. You don’t know where people are coming from or what they’ve experienced … we have no idea what’s going on in people’s lives. Then we judge them, and then we pay the price (through emotions like anger, which releases stress chemicals),” he said.

After this simple exercise, he led people to once again focus on heart breathing while also thinking about, and feeling, what they appreciate.

“Just start appreciating what’s around you, and you’re restoring your system,” he said. “Appreciation is the lever that gets you out of feeling small and being stuck.”

He encouraged people to ask, while in the middle of a stressful situation, “what can I appreciate now?”

This simple act releases about 1,400 feel-good, beneficial biochemicals like DHEA, an anti-aging and vitality hormone, he said.

“It’s the ultimate stealth tool to leverage your awareness of your heart,” he said. “As you practice peace, compassion and gratitude, you start to build circuitry that helps you live on the vitality side. … That’s why people say you look good after vacation, because you’re making more DHEA.”

In the ’90s, HeartMath measured the heart rate variability of hundreds of people, first asking them to think about something frustrating and then asking them to think about appreciation for 3 minutes each. Frustration showed chaotic heart rate patterns, while appreciation showed “coherence,” or a smooth, flowing rhythm. Further studies showed how heart rate affects the brain.

The effects of thinking about frustration (top) as opposed to thinking about gratitude and appreciation (bottom graph).
Courtesy photo

“Chaotic patterns are not isolated to the heart; they are being distributed to every cell in your body,” he said. “Incoherence inhibits brain function.”

And, as it turns out, the heart is about 60 times stronger in amplitude than the electric signal of the brain, and its magnetic dimension is over 100 times stronger than the brain; Cryer said the heart’s electromagnetic energy extends several feet beyond the body. That’s why you feel certain good or bad vibes from people.

“What we put out matters, whether it’s to our pets, our spouses or our plants,” he said. “You sense it in people. So ask yourself: How can I bring more joy and be more compassionate?”

He brought this sense of vital energy into the afternoon session, which was much more experiential; participants danced and wrote letters from different parts of the self, including fear and delight.

He talked about six catalysts for amplifying creative energy: being mindful through heart awareness, movement and dance, nature, playfulness, artistic expression and music.

“Playfulness is the wonder drug of creativity,” he said. “And creativity is a natural high for our brain. Whatever we love doing helps our brain build new connections.”

Coming this week: Purposeful Living

The Vail Alliance for Purposeful Living, Vail Symposium and Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging at the University of Denver are co-hosting a three-day “Purposeful Living Experience” featuring best-selling authors Richard Leider and Chip Conley. This includes two days in Vail and one day in Denver, all focused on various aspects of purposeful living. Tickets can be purchased separately for each event.

  • 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards: “Unlocking Your Purpose at Any Age” with Richard Leider and Chip Conley
  • 9 -11:30 a.m. Sept. 28 workshop at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards: “The Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself to Live Purposefully” with Richard Leider and Chip Conley
  • September 29, 10:30 a.m. to noon Sept. 29 in Denver at the Knoebel Institute for Healthy Aging: “The Path of Purposeful Aging” with Richard Leider

Tickets: $25; $10 for Vail Resort employees and free for Eagle County teachers and students Sept. 27; $40 for Sept. 28, free Sept. 29.

More info: VailAlliance.org or VailSymposium.org

No reported monkeypox cases yet in Eagle County, but state health officials warn that the virus could be spreading without detection

Confirmed cases of monkeypox continue to climb in Colorado, with 109 total infections recorded in the state one week after federal health officials declared the virus a public health emergency in the United States. While no residents of Eagle county have tested positive thus far in the outbreak, as the spread continues, the virus could be closing in on the valley. 

Colorado’s first confirmed case presented in May in Denver where (like many major U.S. cities currently facing the brunt of the virus) in-state transmission has been concentrated. According to the state dashboard, as of Monday, Aug. 8, Denver has recorded 45 cases of monkeypox, accounting for just under half of the state’s total infections. Increasingly, however, the virus is popping up in counties outside of the capital’s metro area, including several counties surrounding Eagle. Garfield, Routt and Summit counties, all announced their first confirmed monkeypox cases last week.

Rebecca Larson, the deputy public health director for Eagle County, confirmed that her office and local health care providers are doing what they can to be ready for potential cases in the community. 

While, in the latest outbreak, monkeypox has predominantly affected gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, the disease is not exclusively spread through sexual contact and all citizens are susceptible. The virus can be transmitted through any type of close contact, or through shared fabric, clothing and bedding.  

According to Larson, local practitioners are equipped to perform medical evaluations, administer tests, and provide care for residents who demonstrate symptoms. The infection typically presents with a rash and painful lesions, often, but not exclusively, in combination with flu-like symptoms that last around four weeks. Larson added that county public health has secured “additional testing resources” to confirm suspected cases should they present locally.

Vaccines, however, are not in such ready supply. Larson reported that there are no vaccines available in Eagle County. If a confirmed case arises locally, there is a process of special authorization to transport a dose to treat the infected individual.

According to Carrie Godes, a public information officer with public health in Garfield county, the state employed this response to address the county’s singular case. 

Monkeypox vaccine eligibility in Colorado remains limited to at-risk demographics, including individuals who have been exposed to the virus within the last two weeks or men who have sex with men who have had multiple sexual partners in that time period. All recipients of the vaccine must be over the age of 18. 

Even with criteria in place to curb demand, Colorado is struggling to vaccinate all interested, eligible citizens. Amid federal shortages of Jynneos (the primary vaccine approved by the U.S. for use against monkeypox) vaccine clinics in the state are fully booked through Aug. 13 — those who are newly eligible or have only recently sought out an appointment to receive the vaccine are now being added to waitlists until the state is issued more doses.

Colorado requested an additional 5,080 doses from the federal government on Aug. 1. 

According to Paul Galloway, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response, the latest shipment of vaccines arrived in Colorado on Aug. 3. The state can place its next order for vaccines on Aug. 15.

“With last week’s federal declaration of monkeypox now classified as a public health emergency, we are optimistic that our vaccine supply from the federal government will continue to increase, and we are working to enroll providers to ensure access throughout the state,” Galloway shared in a written statement.

Gov. Jared Polis also announced that 30 additional providers enrolled for vaccine administration on Aug. 3 in an effort to facilitate distribution once an additional supply of the vaccine is acquired.